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Patriots Player Previews: #97 Ron Brace

Leading up to the start of the Patriots season, we will be previewing one or two Patriots players per day (counting down from #99), taking a look at their 2010 seasons and projecting what each player might bring to the table in 2011. Feel free to leave your own predictions in the comments section!

Name: Ron Brace

Position: DE/NT

Age/HT/WT: 24 / 6'3" / 330 lbs

Years Pro: 3

College: Boston College

2010 Season: Heading into 2010, many people had already labeled Boston College mammoth Ron Brace as a "bust." In his rookie campaign, Brace barley saw the field and wasn't very effective when he actually did get playing time. However, Brace managed to prove most of his doubters wrong last year. Brace played in 13 games, saw five starts, and picked up 23 tackles playing mostly left end. He was more effective taking on double teams and became a run stopping force. At times, he paired up with Vince Wilfork and Gerard Warren to create a defensive line that weighed over half a ton.

2011 Projected Role: While Brace certainly improved his play in 2010, there's no question that the 2009 second round draft pick still has some things to work on. If Brace could drop 5-10 pounds, it would certainly aid him in playing the five-technique. We know Brace's strength isn't his athleticism, but dropping a few pounds might even let him play some right end. Still, I think Brace will see plenty of playing time on first and second downs as well as on running/goal line situations. I don't necessarily think Brace will start every game next year, but I expect him to improve both as a run defender and in his overall game.

2011 Projected Stats: 15 games played, 8 games started, 35 tackles, .5 sacks

Bottom Line: Improving young defensive lineman who should see a fair amount of starts and be a force against the run as a defensive end.